Nasa, Nagy Kurth Baker, Denisovans discussed on Science Friday
Day today, depending on where you are further inland. Highs into the seventies fifties and sixties along the coast peninsula, currently sixty two degrees here in San Francisco at member supported K Q E D public radio. This is science Friday reflejo bit later in the hour, some digital estate planning and had one US coming company is planning for the potential havoc wrought by climate change. But first back in two thousand eight paleoanthropologists exploring in a Siberian cave found a single Hamad finger bone DNA analysis of that bone had researchers to say the fine Mark the discovery of a new kind of ancient human lineage separate from the enter tolls, and homo sapiens that lineage became known as Denisovans after the cave where the finger bone was found this week. Researchers announced another Dennis have in find far away from the original site. Joining me now to talk about why that is important and other stories from the weekend. Science is Maggie Kurth. Baker senior science reporter at five thirty eight nice to have you back again. Maggie. Thanks for having me. Tell us about this phone. What's what what's important about this new bone find? Well, so the interesting thing about the discipline species is that it's really been something that we know primarily through DNA analysis. So scientists can tell you a lot about this genome, but not about what Denisovans looked like. So the data really increased significantly this week with this job own find it tells us a little bit more about their appearance because it lacks the chin, for instance, and has these particularly big teeth that are different in shape and size from those of Neanderthals and modern humans and really any other known hominids, and the other thing that's really important about this is that finding this job own into bet helps back up this previous DNA research that had found that a mutation. That's common in modern thebenz, probably originally came from Denisovans. So this mutation is interesting. It's associated with making it easier to breathe at high altitude and this. One hundred sixty thousand euro job own shows that the Denisovans were they're living in the Himalayas at least one hundred twenty thousand years before homo sapiens, and they were adapting to their environment in a way that they'd eventually pass on to us, and that was fifteen hundred miles away from the original find is in that significant. Yeah, that definitely is. Also, it means that they were spread out over a pretty big chunk of Asia. Okay. Let's move onto news this week about a scandal involving aluminum for rockets. Yeah. So these two unmanned missions to space failed because NASA contractor was falsifying the results of materials testing. This Justice department investigation. Just got published that found that this aluminum extrusion company had deliberately altered certification test results between nineteen ninety six in two thousand fifteen trying to make it look like the materials it produced met NASA specifications when they didn't and the scam resulted in Tucson. Satellites failing to reach orbit ironically because they failed to fail rather than failing themselves. So these these were things that were part of the payload fairing, which is kind of like this clam shell shaped housing that protects the satellite during launch then opens out, right? Those to it's supposed to separate and fall away, and in both of these launches it did not separate and follow away which meant that the rocket way too much. And then the whole thing fell back to earth and disintegrated, and if actively wasted about seven hundred million dollars know, this is something that the Justice department and NASA have been investigating for a long time. The company involved got banned from government contracting back in two thousand fifteen but this is just the first time the results have been made. Public sounds pretty interesting. Let's move on to a story that we covered a few weeks ago. We talked with trimmer, Adam Reese, about attempts to measure, the Hubble constant it seems to be really a lot of that going on in the news. Yeah. So the Hubble constant is kind of an interesting thing. It's this idea of trying to get a hold of the rate of expansion of the universe. And it is one of the key tasks that was proposed for the Hubble space telescope back when it first launched in nineteen ninety. So over time the Hubble space telescope has been using these observations of the distance between certain kinds of pulsating stars to narrow down its estimate of what this Hubble constant is and get a little bit closer and closer to what we assume as an accurate number. They had what happened this week is that they came out with a new revised estimate and this one they think is narrowing that uncertainty to the point that it's probably accurate to within one point nine percent. But some things you talked about before there's another way to measure, the Hubble constant and that other way is studying the cosmic microwave background radiation. So essentially like the leftovers of the big bang, and that's produced an entirely different estimate of the Hubble constant and this new constant that the space telescope, researchers think is the most accurate one. They've ever produced is now. Nine percent faster than the constant as measured by that cosmic microwave background radiation. So we've got this pretty big difference. That would make the universe. What younger if it's or older or something? At the same time. I don't know. Let's let's look at our hands. And just let me fascinated with the universe. Because they both be right. I mean could there be new physics here? Atom reset as well. Maybe there's no physics. We don't know about. Maybe we're both right, right. That's the really interesting thing is the existing cosmological models suggest that these two things, you know, should match. But nobody knows yet. Why they don't? So maybe somebody's got something wrong. Or maybe what we have wrong is our cosmological models to to to to to to. Can't do good twilight zone music. Finally, there's there's a story about a delivery system for transplanted organs. Tell us about that. Yeah. So a life saving kidney made a three mile journey from donor to transplant recipient via drone this week. And that is a first for organ transplants. It's part of a test case demonstration at the university of Maryland. But the researchers are hoping the technology could someday make organ delivery faster and give doctors a better ability to sort of track. The movement of the Oregon in transit. So they would know exactly where it is at all times. And that matters for a couple of reasons, I it because those organs lose viability the longer it takes to get to recipient, but another part here is that the organ donor system is currently undergoing some big changes that are likely going to make longer distance transplants more common. This is something I read about it fivethirtyeight a couple of weeks ago. He's new rules for liver. Donations took effect this week. And they are aiming to be distributed. Organs from parts of the country. That have more donor organs to parts that have fewer donor organs. And they're pretty controversial rules. So the state of Kansas is currently considering a Bill that would keep Kansas organs for cans, for instance, and kidneys are probably the next thing on the list. That's going to get these rule revisions after the liver ones have taken effect. So we could someday be looking at a future where somebody in New York City is getting a new organ from rural Pennsylvania delivered via drone. Wow. And I guess you you really have to have great confidence in drones ability to do that. Not just you know, it's not a loaf of bread you delivering here. Right. I mean, obviously, there's a lot of testing to go before people are going to feel comfortable doing long distance trips with these things, but they were done using multiple pilots following this thing very closely. And as the researchers pointed out in some ways, it's a little bit better than sending it in a truck or a plane because you know, exactly where the thing is. It's it's a lot more easy to track it as it's moving. Could we could we have an organ donor war breakout between the states here? Oh, we could that is that whole bit is a whole issue in another it self where what you have is some parts of the country have higher rates of donor registration and some parts of the country have higher rates of donor need, and those do not necessarily match up real well Nagy Kurth Baker senior science reporter, fivethirtyeight, always a pleasure to have you. Thanks for joining us. Thank you for having make now it's time to check. Check in on the state of science. Is.